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Faith meets reason: Philosophy and Theology

Have you ever wondered about why things are the way they are? What is truth? Do you have deep questions about life, religion, society, your faith? Do you think there’s more to your faith than what you’ve been told to believe? Can religious beliefs stand up to reason? Do you find it difficult to explore these questions with others?

If so, then you may already be thinking like a philosopher and you may have an interest in pursuing studies in Philosophy. Broken down, the roots of the word originate in Ancient Greek – philo: love  Sophia: wisdom, loosely translated the word points to the love of Wisdom. Do you know that much of what we now come to believe about our Christian faith finds its origins in Ancient Greek thought: persons like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have all had a profound impact on religious thought, beliefs and practices. This is not however, just an historical fact but has implications for what we believe today.

Philosophy gets to the heart of the matter of things. It points not just to what we do but why we do what we do. For many Christians, asking why leads to uncomfortable experiences. We have been wrongly taught not to question. This was not a pedagogical practice adopted by the person of Jesus however, who in His life and ministry allowed questions: both from His opponents and His followers. Jesus appreciated the God-given gift of our rationality, wisdom, curiosity and understood that there must be synergy between what we think and what we believe. Later on, Peter would continue in this vein emphasising to the early Christian community that in order for the Good News to be spread, one must “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).

It is within this tradition that the Seminary of St John Vianney & the Uganda Martyrs (SJVUM) now follows as it gets set to offer for the first time in its seventy-nine-year history, a full degree programme in Philosophy.  Currently, philosophy courses already form an integral part of the Theology bachelor’s programme at SJVUM, however preparations are underway to eventually offer a BA Philosophy programme through the affiliate status with The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine. That programme will touch on such fields as Western and Caribbean history, truth, ethics, human nature, culture. The questions that are likely to arise will not only affect religious belief but has implications for the way we understand all of society and life. In a postmodern context of relativity, fake news and radical subjectivity, philosophy can help provide the tools to understand the heart of the matter of things, to critically engage with knowledge generally and to enter into reasoned debates on serious topics, all in service of the pursuit of Truth, which is “revealed to us fully in Jesus Christ”, (Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II,1992).


Registration for the September semester is now open and runs until the end of July. For further information on how you can pursue courses please contact the Seminary: Dr Adanna James/Ms Sherette Almandoz at secretary.dean@sjvum.edu.tt

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